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(photo credit: AP)
Four Palestinians infiltrators armed with knives and a hand grenade were captured by IDF soldiers soon after they crossed through the security fence into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Monday afternoon, the army said.
The men, whose ages were not disclosed, were spotted by soldiers manning a guardpost as they cut through the fence near the Kissufim Crossing. Patrols in the area were alerted, and the four men were captured by Golani infantry soldiers without incident a few dozen meters from where they had breached the fence, an IDF spokesperson in the southern command said.
Despite the weapons found in their possession, military officials said it was not yet clear if the men's intentions were criminal, terrorist, or if the men were seeking employment, as is the case in the vast majority of attempted infiltrations from Gaza since disengagement.
The four were handed over to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for questioning.
Military officials would not confirm reports that the four men claimed to be Fatah members fleeing a Hamas crack-down on the group in Gaza.
Additional security forces scrambled to the area as officers investigated conflicting reports that two additional members of the group had escaped into Israeli territory, but more extensive searches were soon called off when officers determined that there were no additional infiltrators.
Military officials in the Southern Command were yet to complete their official inquiry into a previous security breach from Gaza when Monday's infiltration took place.
In an infiltration 10 days earlier, two men seeking work in Israel cut through the fence and managed to slip past the IDF lines to a waiting car.
The two men got as far as the Israeli Arab town of Tira, east of Netanya, before being captured by police.
The IDF was harshly criticized in the Israeli press following the breach for its perceived delay in locating and capturing the infiltrators.
Military sources told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the IDF remains on guard for Hamas and other terror organizations in the Gaza Strip known to be working determinedly to perpetrate a "quality attack" inside Israeli territory.
The sources cited several recent incidents in which Gazan terrorists used livestock, and on occasion even women and children, to test the fence's sensitivity, or possibly to lull those monitoring the fence's electrical sensors into complacency through frequent false alarms.
IDF officials said Monday that they were considering whether to restrict Palestinian vehicles from approaching to within one kilometer from the security fence following the latest string of incidents.
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